August 28, 2023

The Happiness Sweet Spot - organizational happiness

What do happy organizations look like?

As I navigated the material of week 2 of the Organizational Happiness delivered by Lars Kure Juul through UPEACE - Center for Executive Education, I felt my heart starting to beat faster, I felt excitement in every corner of my body and my mind was filled with ideas. 

Happiness at work pays off. We’ve seen that in the first week. Nevertheless, it’s not a straightforward task. Overall in complex environments with conflicting priorities and lack of resources. 

In life and in business, we’ve been made to believe that success brings us happiness, but it turns out it’s the other way around. Happiness brings success which in turn fuels out happiness. Research has shown that people who are happy can perform tasks way better than people that are in a neutral or unhappy state. So simply being ok at work it’s not ok. It’s not good for you and it’s not good for business. A lot of potential is left untapped. 

People and organizations need to harness the power of happiness at work. But what do happy organizations look like?

Happy organizations have three things in common: they have a strong heartfelt purpose, believe in strengths-based leadership, and are cultivating a culture of compassion (Organizational Happiness, Lars). These are the three pillars in the Happiness Sweet Spot model. 

The Happiness Sweet spot model. “Organizational Happiness”, Lars Kure Juul 

So let’s start with purpose. As shared by Simon Sinek in his powerful book “Start with why”, each organization should be able to clearly articulate their why, their purpose, cause or main belief. Unfortunately, little can. Most organizations focus on the how (process) and the what (outcome), but it’s the why that makes people engaged, committed and inspired. What’s there besides making money? That’s the first step for any organization: what is your why? What is your heartfelt reason for existing? Take the time to develop an employer value proposition that resonates with the why of your current and future employees. Give your employees a reason to be proud and happy to work for your organization. The stronger and more heartfelt the purpose, the easier for employees to give all they have because they feel connected to something bigger than just the task at hand. 

Now onto strengths, one of my favorite topics and one that still needs to become an integral part of organizational culture. Traditionally, we have all been directed towards our weaknesses as a way to improve and grow. However, we now know that it’s twice as important to focus on our strengths for true growth and fulfillment at work. This requires a complete rework of the annual appraisal process, leadership training, and an ultimate culture shift. As Peter Drucker says in “Managing Oneself” "...a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weakness, let alone something one can not do at all." Achieving true excellence is only possible when we operate from strengths. This is a topic both individuals and leaders must adopt a new mindset, a new language and new behaviors. And it all starts with discovering people’s talents, strengths and potential. It’s all about unlocking and releasing potential. 

Let me close this reflection with a question: What would happen in your organization if you had happier, healthier employees? Think of three concrete things that would happen.

If you enjoyed this reflection let me know in the comments section and stay tuned to read about the third pillar of the Sweet Spot, compassion next week.

And remember: “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” Carl Jung 

Written by Andreea Pap

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